Monday, April 15, 2013

Broccolini and Avocado Salad

Broccolini or Broccoli Raab?

I love buying broccoli raab at the market, and when I saw something similar in a bag at a grocery store with an organic label, I wondered what exactly is broccolini?  It looks like skinny broccoli and has a resemblance to broccoli raab, so are they the same thing? And more importantly, does broccolini offer the same bitter tones I love in broccoli raab?

Both greens are members of the cruiciferious family of vegetables. WiseGeek says broccolini is a trademarked name and the vegetable was developed by crossing broccoli with gailan or kai-lan, a Chinese broccoli, a vegetable only slightly more bitter than broccoli.

The cross makes broccolini have sweeter tones.  The flavor is like eating baby broccoli.

But what about the cruciferous raabs?

Broccoli raab (rabe or rapini) is more closely related to turnips than broccoli.  It has been used extensively in Italian and Chinese cooking.  Broccoli raab offers more bitter tones than broccolini, so if you want to use raab instead of broccolini for this recipe, add a bit of sweetener to the dressing.

There's no place like the Northwest for vibrant greens.

Organic broccolini

Check out Elizabeth Schneider's The Essential Reference of Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini or Deborah Madison's Vegetable Literacy

Elizabeth Sheneider's Vegetables From Amaranth to Zucchini

Start with a lemon.  Why not, if you have too many.  If you only have oranges, why not try that in this salad? So many dishes shine when fresh citrus is added especially greens.  

Citrus and vinegar leech the color from greens if left too long, so plan to consume this salad the day you make it, if possible.   And if you have leftovers use it in a veggie wrap with fresh vegetables and tofu the next day.

I also used hot peppers I'd picked up at the farmers market in Phoenix, Arizona, my favorite balsamic vinegar and this amazing extra-virgin olive oil from Spain that came as a gift a few months ago.

My Cooking Assistant is little too curious about hot peppers. 

Use caution with hot peppers

I wanted to extract the essence of the pepper in the dressing without having it too spicy, so I allowed the pepper to soak until it softened.  Then I pressed it, and then (unfortunately) I left it in the salad.  Do not do this!   When my husband turned to me and said, "What was that pepper?" Yikes!   As his face turned red, I knew exactly what happened.  I hadn't informed him it wasn't part of the salad.  And then, I never did confess that I'd meant to take it out and it was supposed to be hotter than a habenero pepper.  Would you?   

Just remember whatever you do-- take the pepper out in the end.  Use it again if you like, but don't let your guests gulp it down by mistake.

Broccolini and Avocado Salad
(Serves 4)

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
2 to 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon powdered garlic
1small dried hot pepper (habanero or hotter)

4 cups broccolini (or use broccoli raab), stems finely chopped and tops roughly chopped
1 avocado, pitted. peeled and diced
Smoked sea salt
1/4 to 1/2 cups toasted bread crumbs or croutons 

1. Combine balsamic vinegar, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic powder and the dried pepper.  Blend well, place in the refrigerator and allow mixture to soften the pepper for about an hour.  Press the peppers.  Break it open if you like really spicy food. Then remove the pepper and use in another dish, if you like.

2. Steam broccolini or broccoli raab until tender--3 to 5 minutes.  Drain and rinse with cold water.  Place in a salad bowl with the avocado.   Toss gently with the dressing.  

3. Sprinkle with bread crumbs or croutons before serving.

1 comment:

Miz Helen said...

Hope you are having a great weekend and thank you so much for sharing this awesome recipe with Full Plate Thursday.
Hope to see you soon!
Miz Helen